2015-16 NBA Record: 32-50
Additions: Derrick Rose (traded from Chicago Bulls), Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Brandon Jennings (Orlando Magic), Courtney Lee (Charlotte Hornets), Justin Holliday (traded from Chicago Bulls)
Subtractions: Arron Afflalo (Sacramento Kings), Derrick Williams (Miami Heat), Langston Galloway (New Orleans Pelicans), Amar’e Stoudemire (retired), Robin Lopez (traded to Chicago Bulls), Jose Calderon (traded to Chicago Bulls), Jerian Grant (traded to Chicago Bulls)
Projected Starting Line-up (via rotoworld.com)
PG – Derrick Rose
SG – Courtney Lee
SF – Carmelo Anthony
PF – Kristaps Porzingis
C – Joakim Noah
There are big expectations for this new-look Knicks squad, with the additions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings to help out star Carmelo Anthony and Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis, under new coach Jeff Hornacek. However Rose, Noah and Jennings have all had significant injuries in their careers and lack the explosiveness that once made them some of the best players in their position. Depending on the health of this team, New York’s season has both such a high ceiling or such a low floor. They can either make the playoffs and challenge for the Eastern Conference crown or struggle to reach a .500 record.
Each player in this side brings a unique quality that could help improve their record from a year ago. Rose will be motivated in a contract year and is the starting point guard New York has always needed. He can make plays for himself especially when driving to the paint. Noah will bring the energy that can light up Madison Square Garden and is a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He’s also an elite rebounder and underrated passer, which helps since the Knicks are in need of a playmaker. Jennings is a streaky shooter, but when he’s on fire, he’s hard to stop. He’s will be a great backup for the Knicks, especially if Rose goes down hurt. Jennings and Rose are the only players on this Knicks team who have averaged over three assists in their careers. Lee is a great defender and three point shooter in his position. He is one of only two players to shoot at least 37% from three in each season this decade (the other is Kyle Korver). Lee is quite an underrated addition to the team, since he made an impact during the post-season, when Charlotte had two of the top five best lineups in the playoffs in terms of plus/minus rating with Lee on the court. Porzingis was a standout last season and can beat you in any way. He’s the first rookie in NBA history to tally at least 100 blocks, 75 made threes and 50 steals. Melo can still put up 20+ points a night. Melo especially is still at the top of his game, as last season he was one of four players to average at least 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists – along with Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. One of the unheralded players on this team is Lance Thomas, who had his best season in 2015-16 before injuries ruined his year. His defensive versatility and new-found three point stroke will provide a spark off the bench.
On paper, this Knicks side can win the Eastern Conference championship. However, the only obstacles that hold this team back is whether the team can stay healthy. General manager Phil Jackson addressed the issues of bad defense and lackluster point guard play by adding Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, but people will see this as Jackson being desperate by adding veteran players who are past their prime or have been held down by injury. Melo and Porzingis were by far the two best players on the Knicks last year and the new signings should make this team stronger. I think this team can make the playoffs, but will only finish 3rd in their division with the Celtics and Raptors also around. Here’s a scary thought: Derrick Rose has played more games in the last two seasons (117) than Carmelo Anthony (112), Joakim Noah (96) and Brandon Jennings (89).
Prediction: 3rd place in Atlantic Division